A Solution to Anger and Hate
My heart breaks over what is happening in our country and the world. Waves of anger and hate are spilling over our borders – dividing groups of people, destroying communities and hurting families. It’s ugly. It’s heavy stuff.
People – human beings – are dying on the streets. I don’t know what to say or do…
Suffering and horror comes up in our discussions over dinner. The pain in our world finds its way into all my conversations. Honestly, I’m wrestling. I think we are all wrestling, actually… not sure what to do with all this anger, hate, evil and injustice.
How do we acknowledge and comfort those who are hurting? What can we say or do to make a difference?
We are critical of those who say and do something. We are just as critical of those who say and do nothing. And we naturally respond by getting angry and wanting to fight… or by a desire to run away and live in indifference.
So, let’s talk about it…
Anger is a powerful emotion and it can be a conduit for change. A just, righteous anger can become a rallying call to stop injustice, defend the weak and protect those in danger. God hardwired us with these emotions. They are what make us human, and they can be our greatest strength.
But anger can also become our greatest weakness. When I was a young girl I experienced abuse. Looking back, I can see how my anger was a powerful self-defense mechanism. I’ve also learned first-hand that anger, when it is left unchecked, will no longer protect you. It will destroy you.
In my anger I have often sinned. Certain sins are like groupies – hanging out together. Anger starts the party. But before long hate, bitterness, slander, judgment, a critical spirit, and even racism can join in. Anger and hate quickly become a self-imposed prison.
On the flip side, running away from pain and tension isn’t much better. When we run away we become detached and complacent. Horrible things often happen in front of audience simply because people are too distracted, pre-occupied and complacent to notice. They choose to live in denial.
What does it take to be free of anger, hate, indifference and complacency?
I don’t have all the answers, but I know getting curious is part of the solution. We’ve all heard “curiosity killed the cat.” But we are not cats, we are people. I think a curious spirit will save us from destroying each other.
When we get curious – by definition – we have a strong desire to investigate, learn and ultimately understand. Curious people look, listen and love.
Think about this…. when you slam your finger in the car door it hurts. Most people get screaming mad in this situation because hurt people are angry people. What if we flipped this around and started seeing angry people as people who are hurting? What if we saw them as people who needed to be seen and heard instead of quieted or ignored?
When we respond to anger with anger, a difficult situation quickly escalates. Anger is the perfect setting for violence. This is happening across our country and with our people right now. We see angry, hurting people hating on each other and hurting each other. People repaying evil for evil and insult for insult.
What if someone listened with a goal of understanding? What if we stopped retaliating in anger and got curious instead?
This week I experimented with being curious instead of judgmental as a parent. My husband and I agreed to be curious – to listen with a desire to understand our boys before stating our perspective. The result? My small family saw more peace.
I love my family and we’re typically pretty loving to one another, but this week we actually felt more love. Tense conversations were quickly diffused simply because we made an effort to listen and understand before lecturing.
Listening to understand opens the door for a real conversation. Real conversations provide the space for compassion and healing. Real conversations lead to restoration and even unity amidst our differences.
When we listen well we can love well.
Scripture gives us clear direction on how we can live in the tension. It says,
“Understand [get curious], my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” James 1:19-20
Notice it does not say, “don’t get angry.” It says listen first. Wrestle with your response. We are called to listen…and then do something.
I’m still wrestling with what to say and do but I’m committed to listen and understand those who are hurting. I invite you to join the conversation and share your thoughts on how to get curious and live out James 1:19…
What if we got curious in all our relationships? What if we were quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry? What would be the impact in our communities?
Join me, Laurie and Julie Thursday afternoons at 2:30pm on 93.9 KPDQ and Sunday mornings at 11:30am on True Talk 800. Each week we explore God’s Word and discuss practical ways we can live for the joy of it in our homes, relationships and community.